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2004: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

By THE PWINSIDER.COM STAFF on 2005-01-03 09:00:00

DECEMBER

Here we go again kids.  Paul Heyman was removed from the Smackdown writing team on December 3rd. No other details are available right now as to what the new shape of the writing team will be except that apparently it had been brewing over the last few weeks and quickly came to a head. Heyman had joined the Smackdown team a few months earlier after Bruce Prichard had taken a leave of absence from the company for personal reasons. In the time Heyman was on the writing team, the ratings had increased and the quality of the show, in the opinion of many, had improved dramatically. There has not been any official reason for the change or comment on it, nor do we know who will take his place on the team. It should be pointed out that one prevailing opinion among a lot of WWE employees is that they think the timing of this is pretty curious, since the company needed a happy Heyman until the ECW DVD came out and now that it's been released, this move has taken place. It should be pointed out that Heyman is still with the company. David Lagana was back to flying largely solo in writing the show.  There was a lot of talk that whatever the issues were that led to Heyman's removal from the team had to do with him and Stephanie McMahon, who of course is in charge of creative for WWE. Heyman would also be removed from his on-air role of advising Heidenreich, with no real explanation. 

Even he doesn't know what is going to happen next. In an interview with Brian Stull for the Stranglehold radio show, Paul Heyman stated, "I don't even know anymore. (Laughs). It changes by the week. I'm the wonderful hero that they all turn to and then the next week, I'm the lunatic that ran ECW and we can't wait 'til your contract's up. It all depends on which way the wind blows in my relationship with WWE--like a roller coaster with the blindfolds on. There are days where I think Vince McMahon truly appreciates what I have to offer and truly appreciates the difference of opinion that I have. And there are days when I think he just doesn't want to hear it and I'm on the outs. I could come into this phone call as the lead writer for WrestleMania and by the time the phone call is over, I could be relegated to not being able to pick who the referees are for Velocity."

Thanks Triple H, thanks a lot.  During an edition of Raw, Chris Benoit was 
legitimately knocked out from a Triple H chairshot. He ended up getting a few staples in the back of his head, but was OK later. The referee for the match, Jack Doan, was also busted open and knocked out, legit from the Triple H chairshots, and needed to be carried from the ring by the other referees.

The sad truth is, we might be seeing the beginning of the end of his career.  During an edition of Byte This, Kurt Angle commented on the status of his neck. Angle has  had 2 neck surgeries and 3 neck injuries in the last year and a half. He admitted that he had no feeling in his left pinkie finger. His left hand is about 50% as strong as his right hand so he’s had some setbacks but he is gaining some strength back. He says he feels better now than he did last year at this point. He plans on being around for another 5 years, but obviously it is hard to imagine him wrestling at a top level given his condition. 

Didn't he just leave? Randy Savage was sent home by TNA after a meeting where Savage requested that he win the NWA championship from Jeff Jarrett at the 1/15/05 Final Resolution PPV. TNA officials quickly told Savage that wasn’t in the cards for their plans and sent him home from the taping. There is always a chance he may be back down the line, but the PPV match was off. Randy Savage met with Dusty Rhodes and Jerry Jarrett for about 15 minutes before the decision was made to send him home and go another direction for the Final Resolution PPV event. Savage pinned Jarrett during a six man tag match at the Turning Point PPV the previous Sunday. His appearance in the six man tag, where he was much smaller and less muscular than he had appeared in the past, was Savage's first match in four years, but consisted of only a few punches before gingerly lowering himself on Jarrett for the pin. 

Why does this not surprise me? In a funny story, Jeff Hardy never answered the fans’ questions on TNAWrestling.com’s message forum, so they have moved on to AJ Styles. TNA noted that they could “never find” Hardy to answer the questions.

You'd think he would have tried NFL Europe first. In the Minneapolis Tribune, Sid Hartman wrote the following: "Friends of former Gophers and pro wrestler Brock Lesnar say he is ready to make a comeback." Hartman didn't say what Lesnar wanted to come back to, but since he only left wrestling, that would be the only thing that made sense. With The Royal Rumble and WrestleMania around the corner, it would actually make perfect sense.

He isn't really thinking about going against them again, is he? In the January issue of Esquire, Vince McMahon was quoted as saying, in reference to the horrible failure of the XFL football league, "What I learned from the XFL experience is to be smarter the next time I take on the NFL."

Can't we all get along, Part 6. Backstage at Raw, Mick Foley and Ric Flair came face to face. The two have sparred verbally since Flair's book came out and answered charges levied by Foley in his book. All along, WWE had been hoping to turn the situation between the men into a storyline feud. When Foley came to Raw, sources say that Flair offered Foley a handshake but Foley refused. Foley then turned down the handshake but reportedly asked Flair to autograph a copy of his book so it could be auctioned off for charity. Shortly thereafter, Flair threw a punch at Foley, which connected but didn't do any damage. Some people who saw the incident thought that it was "two men acting like babies".

Not exactly looking like the Mecca of Wrestling, now is it? A Smackdown house show at Madison Square Garden, was sparsely attended, with some people thinking it was as low as 3,000 people. The official number of sold tickets was just under 6,000. That is a good house show crowd by today's standards, but utterly pathetic for what is considered to be WWE's home arena. 

By any other name, it will still probably bomb.Fangoria, the top horror genre magazine, noted on their website that Kane’s feature film has had the title changed to “Goodnight" from the more ridiculous, Eye Scream Man. 

Helping out the Homicidal, Suicidal, Genocidal. The Sabu benefit show was a rousing success. The event in Belleville, Michigan drew a sellout of 700 fans and turned away several hundred more. TNA's Scott D'Amore put the show together and deserves a lot of credit for the event. Kid Kash pulled out before the event as he had an exam (he's working towards a chiropractor's degree) and would not have made it back in time if he had worked the show. Chris Harris was double booked by the TNA office so Dallas worked in his place. Michael Shane was also added. Joey Styles will be voicing over a DVD that will be released in January 2005 and there will be additional Ebay auctions to continue to help Sabu with his medical bills. Everyone involved with the show in some capacity deserves a lot of praise for helping out one of their own.

Ending the year on an up note. Some fantastic news came in on the condition of Dr. Death Steve Williams, who had been battling throat cancer over the last several months. WWE.com posted a note that Williams contacted Jim Ross to let him know he is "doing great" with his recuperation from throat surgery, and will be spending time in Denver with his mother over the holidays. In fact, Williams has regained his strength to the point that he has gone skiing several times. Williams plans on going to Hawaii in January to heal up and get in shape. Dr. Death also sent out holidays wishes to everyone.

Volunteer, whether you like it or not. There was a lot of heat on Rob Van Dam with WWE management due to the fact that he refused to go on the "voluntary" Middle East Smackdown trip. The tour, which the wrestlers were told was strictly optional, was really anything but. Word surfaced that Luther Reigns, after it being announced to the wrestlers that the trip was voluntary, told WWE talent VP John Laurinaitis that he wasn't going to go. He was told by Laurinaitis, in so many words, that even though the tour was optional, Vince McMahon expected everyone asked to go and was either told or it was strongly implied to him that if he didn't go, there would be heat on him for exercising his right to skip the trip from Vinnie Mac. After being told that, Reigns reconsidered and went. From what I was told, Reigns had no problem going on the trip when it was initially scheduled to be to Qatar but reconsidered when he was told they would be going to Iraq, which of course is a war zone.

RVD had no desire to go on the trip from the get go.  He told Laurinaitis last week that he wasn't going, and was sent to meet with Vince McMahon to relay that decision to the boss. Many in the company would have wavered at that point and been intimidated into going by the boss, but that just isn't RVD. He told Vince he didn't want to go. They tried one last time, later on, to get him to go, but he held firm and was heard telling people that if this costs him his push, that is just the way it will have to be. He had made up his mind not to go and wasn't going to be intimidated into going. WWE management is said to be less than happy about his decision. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

Wonder if it will be that rubber tipped WCW stuff. A barbed wire cage match is apparently coming to World Wrestling Entertainment in 2005, according to promotional material released by PPV distributor In Demand for the 2/20/05 No Way Out PPV in Pittsburgh, PA.The blurb reads as follows: Conflict has a new battleground in the first ever barbed wire steel cage match. There's no place to run. There's no way out. SmackDown presents WWE’s No Way Out, Sunday, February 20th, live at 8pmET/5pmPT on Events iN DEMAND pay-per-view. This would be the first time there is an advertised barbed wire match of any kind in WWE history, although Mick Foley and Terry Funk pitched doing a no ropes exploding barbed wire match at Wrestlemania 14, via satellite from Funk's Double Cross Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. The idea was later tossed out when WWF hired Mike Tyson to appear in the main event of the PPV. 

So, you can file charges for playing "keep away" with a hat now.  Chris Jericho, Ric Flair, and Dave Batista had charges filed against them for allegedly harassing a Huntsville, Alabama man in a local Hooters, according to WAAY 31 TV in Alabama. Dana Mixx claimed that the three stars took his cowboy hat and wouldn't give it back to him. Mixx also claimed that they pushed him and threatened to beat him up if he tried to retrieve it, but eventually returned the hat. When contacted for comment, WWE told WAAY that one of the wrestlers named (not citing who) was actually in another location when the alleged incident took place.According to several fans there's nothing to the charges. Several fans claimed that the person who filed the charges, Dana Mixx, actually challenged Jericho to an arm wrestling match and lost. One person who witnessed the incident claimed that Mixx handed over his hat after losing, but Jericho later returned it The group of wrestlers were in the Hooters for over an hour after that, signing autographs and taking pictures with different fans including Mixx. One WWE employee who was in the restaurant also noted that there was no incident and no physical threats made towards any fan as well. Also, Batista was not even at the restaurant, much less involved in the incident.

I guess it is an excuse to break out the chant one last time. The talk going around is that WWE intends to put on an ECW PPV on June 5, 2005 in New York City at the Hammerstein Ballroom, the site of ECW's final two PPV events.

WWE stars under fire. During WWE's holiday visit to Iraq to tape an episode of Smackdown in front of U.S. Troops, a base that was being visited by Mick Foley, Big Show, Charlie Haas and Eddie Guerrero was attacked by mortar rounds.  No one was injured. In an interview on CNN after he returned, Foley, who is anti-war, but pro-troops,  said he traveled around Iraq a bit, and when asked about what he saw, he expressed some surprise at the many Iraqis who seemed happy the troops were there.

Looking good for the future. TNA announced that starting in 2005, Impact would be moved to 4PM on Fridays on Fox Sports Net, with a Saturday Midnight replay, opening them up to a whole new audience.

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For a comprehensive look at every news story, major event, television show and Pay-per-view, Elite Members can look at the PWInsider.com Weekly Newsletter archive, which has a detailed look at EVERYTHING in professional wrestling in North America in 2004.  To become an Elite Member, click here

For Mike Johnson's extensive look at Ring Of Honor in 2004, click here.


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